World

Polls close in New Zealand election with John Key front-runner to remain prime minister

  • New Zealand Prime Minister and leader of the National Party John Key, center, and his wife Bronagh and son Max cast their votes in the national election in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Polls indicate Key's center-right National Party is the most popular party, and Key is the front-runner to remain the country's leader. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Brett Phibbs) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT

    New Zealand Prime Minister and leader of the National Party John Key, center, and his wife Bronagh and son Max cast their votes in the national election in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Polls indicate Key's center-right National Party is the most popular party, and Key is the front-runner to remain the country's leader. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Brett Phibbs) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT  (The Associated Press)

  • New Zealand Prime Minister and leader of the National Party John Key buys a sausage after casting his vote on the day of the national election in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Polls indicate Key's center-right National Party is the most popular party, and Key is the front-runner to remain the country's leader. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Brett Phibbs) NEW ZEALAN OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT

    New Zealand Prime Minister and leader of the National Party John Key buys a sausage after casting his vote on the day of the national election in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Polls indicate Key's center-right National Party is the most popular party, and Key is the front-runner to remain the country's leader. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Brett Phibbs) NEW ZEALAN OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT  (The Associated Press)

  • Winston Peters, leader of New Zealand First party, speaks with reporter at a polling station in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Voters in New Zealand began casting their ballots Saturday in a general election that has Prime Minister John Key seeking a third term in office. Polls indicate John Key's center-right National Party is the most popular party, and Key is the front-runner to remain the country's leader. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Jason Dorday) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT

    Winston Peters, leader of New Zealand First party, speaks with reporter at a polling station in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Voters in New Zealand began casting their ballots Saturday in a general election that has Prime Minister John Key seeking a third term in office. Polls indicate John Key's center-right National Party is the most popular party, and Key is the front-runner to remain the country's leader. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Jason Dorday) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT  (The Associated Press)

Polling booths closed Saturday in New Zealand's general election with Prime Minister John Key seeking a third term in office.

Full results are expected by 11:30 p.m. (1130 GMT).

Earlier opinion polls indicated Key's center-right National Party is the most popular party, and Key the front-runner to remain the country's leader. But that could be in jeopardy if opposition parties gain more than half the parliamentary seats and form a coalition.

Key's closest rival is David Cunliffe, leader of the liberal Labour Party. His party has pledged to build tens of thousands of inexpensive homes for first-time buyers.

Supporters say Key's party has managed the economy well during six years in office. It has been growing at a 4 percent clip, while unemployment has dropped to 5.6 percent.